From the standpoint of ecology and preservation of living space one of the biggest global problems today is the electronic waste. The specificity of e-waste is its complexity and the fact that electronic products become obsolete and replaced by newer ones very quickly. Besides that, e-waste is a valuable source of secondary raw materials and toxic and dangerous in cases when it is improperly treated. The fast changes that happen in the field of technology, small initial costs and even planned obsolescence of products have resulted in the rapid growth of this problem worldwide. Products such as cell phones, TVs, radios, computers and computer-related equipment, printers, cameras and other similar products have become a big part of municipal waste and therefore e-waste has been identified as one of the fastest growing types of waste all over the world.
The leading continent in the annual production of this waste is North America followed by Europe and Asia although other continents are showing increased numbers too. The main “producers” of this e-waste are small business and individuals, governmental organization and institutions and large corporations and the manufacturers of electronic equipment. The growth in the volume of electronic waste today is three times larger than the increase in municipal waste. The level of e-waste recycling in developing countries is growing, but is not keeping pace with the growth of production. In the last two decades, developed countries have established various control mechanisms for e-waste management.
The influence of e-waste on the environment comes with its use, design as well as the manner of its disposal at the end of its expiry date. In the end, when the product enters the waste stream, its impact on the environment doesn’t depend only on the characteristics and features of the product, but also on the method used for its treatment. There are few different ways in which this waste can be treated.
Unfortunately, the most common way of treating e-waste is its disposal in landfills. This is a dangerous method because it can lead to leaking of hazardous substances like mercury, PCBs, cadmium and many other toxic elements found in electronic devices and equipment. This type of waste disposal can contaminate the soil, air and water.
On the other hand, e-waste recycling is very important not only because of the ability to protect the environment, but also because it can help the process of obtaining undamaged electronic components as well as precious and costly metals, which are part of printed circuit boards, as the main component of all electronic products. E-waste recycling has a double significance, apart from decreasing pollution in the air, soil and water. It also allows individuals and companies to save the limited resources which are extensively used in the process of production of various electronic appliances. Hazardous materials make e-waste recycling a big challenge. When it comes to e-waste recycling, everything becomes very complicated. There are thousands of different toxic materials used in the production of computers. There are also some toxic chemicals that remain in the computer such as beryllium, lead, cadmium, mercury and other elements which are difficult to recycle. That’s why people need to use professional e-waste recycling companies that use the latest technologies in the field of e-waste recycling.